International Festival Celebrates Culture at IUPUI

As a public college in an urban setting, IUPUI has over 20,000 students, each with different diversities and cultures. According to the 2016 IUPUI diversity report, 10 percent of students are African American, 4 percent are Asian American, 6 percent are Hispanic or Latinx and 4 percent are international students.

What better way to celebrate IUPUI’s diversity than an annual festival?

Promotional flier (Courtesy of the IUPUI International Festival webpage)

The IUPUI International Festival is a part of IUPUI International Week, which runs this year from Sunday, Feb. 11th to Saturday, Feb.17th. The festival took place on Wednesday, Feb. 14th from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Campus Center.

During International Week, the Campus Center gets a makeover with the 195 flags of the United Nations displayed throughout the building for everyone to see.

The festival has been one of campuses longest running events.

“I believe this is the 14th year,” Office of International Affairs Specialist Jhoselyn Hneich said. “Next year is going to be the big 15.”

According to the Office of International Affairs’ website, “This year there are more than 50 student organizations, university departments, nonprofits, and vendors will join us to share their global opportunities.”

Some of the different organizations and departments during this year’s International Festival included International Club at IUPUI, Asian Student Union at IUPUI (ASU), Egyptian Student Organization, Immigrant Welcome Center, German Club at IUPUI, Spanish Club at IUPUI, and the Confucius Institute in Indianapolis.

“There are a lot of Eastern European countries [represented at IUPUI],” Hneich said. “I know Romania is here. We have the Asian Student Union that represents a bunch of other countries. I know we have a lot of students from the Philippines, Taiwan and some Japan.”

Origami at the ELS Language Center boot

The festival lets IUPUI students experience different cultures from around the world. There are multiple performances by different student organizations, including musicians, performers, and more.

“The 40+ exhibitor booths allow attendees to learn about global learning opportunities, whether it’s a study abroad program, a new major program, or volunteer or internship opportunity with a local organization,” said Mandy Bray, Manager of International Information and Communications.

If entertainment isn’t your forte, fear not, because students also get a chance to taste cuisines from all over the world, made by different on-campus organizations and chefs.This year, students had a chance to try food like paneer masala from India, horchata from Central America, beshbarmak from Kazakhstan, chakalata from South America, Mexican Hot Chocolate and kookoo sibzamini from Iran.

Each food location offers a pamphlet with the recipe and step-by-step directions so that students can learn how to make it for themselves.

The International Festival has something for everyone.

“Not only can they [students] talk to our organizations, we also bring in speakers,” Hneich said. “We try to include intercultural activities and other performances as well.”

This year, this Department of World Languages and Cultures held an International Lecture Series. Some of the lectures included “Delivering Education, Healthcare, and Nutrition in Rivers State, Nigeria” by Tijen Demirel-Pegg of the Political Science and International Studies department and “Cultural Awareness Through Authentic Experience: Preparing for German Citizenship” by Karen Roesch of the German department.

The festival, held on Valentine’s Day this year, took its own spin on the holiday as the Department of World Languages and Cultures presented a multilingual poetry reading called “Love Makes the World Go Round,” where IUPUI students from different cultures read poetry from around the world.

The IUPUI International Festival is an event where students can celebrate who they are in an inviting environment filled with food, entertainment, and culture.

“Above all, it helps people to see a small taste of another person’s culture and to appreciate our humanity, no matter our differences,” Bray said.


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